$7.65M Grant Announced for Smoke Taint Research

Congratulations to Oregon State University, Washington State University, and UC Davis for receiving the largest research grant for enology from USDA. There are at least seven particular markers — guaiacol, 4-methylguaiacol, 4-ethylguaiacol, 4-ethylphenol, m-cresol, p-cresol, and o-cresol — known to be responsible for the smoky taste of wine. However, the matrix effect from different wines creates different sensory impacts of these compounds. It is very difficult to determine the thresholds to make harvest decisions.

The following objectives were sought by the researchers:

  • Develop new technologies and establish low-cost sensors and sensor networks for real-time risk assessment in the vineyard.
  • Assess the impact of smoke exposure on the health of grapes and grapevines.
  • Develop grape coatings to reduce or eliminate uptake of smoke components into grapes.
  • Optimize a rapid small-batch fermentation method to predict what a wine impacted by smoke will taste like when fermented on a commercial scale.
  • Determine sensory quality thresholds of smoke compounds in wine.
  • Link environmental, chemical and sensory data to create predictive modeling of smoke risk to grape and wine quality.
  • Create an integrated outreach component to communicate the research findings and their use, and enable industry to benefit from them.

We look forward to the success of their research and building sustainable viticulture in the age of climate change.